Greeting in Christ on a raining Wednesday morning! How's your midweek in this short week? Continuing in our church study of Nehemiah, we see in Nehemiah 3 listing several vocations involved in the rebuilding of the city wall.
Firstly, the task of consecration—which is the separation of persons, utensils, buildings or places from their usual day-to-day uses, and putting them for the exclusive dedication for use in sacred or holy use relating to things of The LORD. This task of consecration were undertaken by the high priests (Eliashib in this case) and his co-workers (3:1).
They "set its doors" and consecrated the Sheep Gate. Nowadays, activities such as religious rites, including "consecration" might seem nebulous, unnecessary, unproductive or even irrelevant to the main tasks at hand. However, consecration as an activity and vocation honours God's priority, power and participation in the project(s) at hand. The intentional setting apart of chattels or other created things for God's purposes honours God.
Secondly, Good and skillful carpentry work was required to lay "its beams and set its doors" (3:3). Thirdly, "Bolts and bars" required blacksmiths for fabrication and installation of them.
Fourthly, repairs skills were mentioned multiple times in 3:3–3:5. Repairing is more difficult than manufacturing from scratch at times. Repairing anything might have to deal with the stubborn remnants of the damaged old stuffs before any start to fixing it can happen. Repairing might require the craftsmen to envision the full final look even before commencing any repairs. This would be particularly difficult for repairers that have not seen the undamaged full-functioning versions beforehand. Frequently, the damages that are present are beyond recognition.
Fifthly, goldsmiths too repaired (3:8). Their behaviour can be contrasted with those of "the nobles" who "would not stoop to serve their LORD" (3:5). This contrast gives us a good reflection point—we can check if we think there is any work of ministry that is "just below our level" in a condescending sense. Is that work of the LORD not worthy of our attention, sacrifice or effort, "below our pay grade"?
Believers in the New Testament era are reminded that had God not chose "to stoop", to become a man (incarnation), had Jesus not allowed himself to be stooped or "demoted" to the status of a criminal in the eyes of those who subjected him to trial, had Jesus not obeyed the Father's will to stoop and going through the demeaning and painful trial process ending with crucifixion on the cross, humans would still be unable to avail themselves of any solution to deal with rampant sin.
Sixth, interestingly, "one of the perfumers" also repaired—Hananiah (3:8). It is hard to imagine how a perfumer's skill can be effectively deployed for the rough and tough work of masonry or wall rebuilding. Perhaps, the teaching point of this is that if your niche skills are not specifically required at any particular points in the timeline of your spiritual community, e.g., when the wall rebuilding does not specifically need any "perfuming" works to be involved, then the perfumers' limbs and energy must still NOT stay idle but is to be deployed to repair work, wherever required.
Seventh, the last vocation we want to mention today is surprisingly "ruler" (3:12). In fact, this person, Shallum, was "ruler of half of the districts of Jerusalem". He did not mind "stooping" lower to participate in the repair work. In fact, this ruler even enrolled "his daughters" to support the work (3:12).
We can rejoice and celebrate with Nehemiah and his community for coming together in a beautiful and God glorifying work. What are you going to do for the 2nd half of 2023, starting anew again, in mid-year? How you contributing towards building the spiritual community?